A repeat drug trafficker who claimed he had fallen foul of changes to benefits was jailed for six years today after he was caught with heroin worth almost £15,000 on the streets.
A judge told Ian Donaldson that it was clear that previous prison sentences passed on him for drugs offences did not have the necessary deterrent effect and that he had continued in the “despicable trade”.
Lord Uist told him that the time had come for a “serious deterrent sentence” and said he would have jailed him for nine years but for his guilty plea.
The judge pointed out that heroin found at his home had a maximum street value of £14,900 and more than £3000 in cash was also recovered.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard that the drugs and cash seized, along with a tick list and scales indicated drug supply on a commercial basis.
Unemployed benefit claimant Donaldson (47) of Balfour Street, in Edinburgh, has twice previously been jailed for three years for offences of heroin trafficking.
He admitted being concerned in the supply of the Class A drug between May 23 and 30 this year.
The court heard that police armed with a warrant had forced entry to Donaldson’s flat on May 30 and he told them there was drugs in the premises.
Defence solicitor advocate Robbie Burnett said: “He co-operated with the police when they were in the house.”
Mr Burnett said Donaldson had used heroin for a considerable time but about two months before his arrest had decided to come off the drug and had approached an organisation to get on a methadone reduction programme.
The defence lawyer said: “Shortly before this incident his benefits had been cancelled under new legislation.”
He had been receiving sickness benefit but the change meant he was not getting money to live off.
“Somebody involved in drugs saw his vulnerability and approached him,” said Mr Burnett.
Donaldson’s role was to sort the drugs out into similar deals.
Lord Uist pointed out that Donaldson had previous convictions for other serious offences than drugs.
The judge said: “It is not just a drugs background. There is a general criminal background.”